Participants in a community-wide Visioning meeting see downtown Jefferson in five years as a “colorful and modernized historic district brimming with art, shopping, dining and activities that people can’t wait to get to and can’t stop talking about because it’s a great space that’s part of a great place.”
Picturing downtown in the future involved 35 participants who gathered at Jefferson City Hall on May 7 for a Visioning process conducted by Main Street Iowa and Jefferson Matters: Main Street.
Participants were divided into small groups and asked by Main Street Iowa facilitators Michael Wagler, state coordinator, and Terry Poe Buschkamp, a Main Street district specialist, to answer a series of questions about downtown Jefferson and the Jefferson Matters: Main Street program.
The first three questions asked about the assets, challenges and opportunities of downtown Jefferson and the fourth question asked them to list reasons why downtown Jefferson is important to the community. The next series of questions asked about the top three issues facing each of the four points of the local Main Street program: Organization, Design, Promotion and Economic Restructuring.
Each small group provided responses to the questions, which were copied onto flip chart paper by the facilitators.
The final exercise for the evening asked the groups to provide a one-sentence description of how they envisioned downtown Jefferson in five years.
All the responses to the eight questions and the five-year outlook were posted around the room. Each participant was given three votes in each of the eight question categories and one vote from among six five-year outlook statements.
Based on most votes received, the clearest consensus pertained to issues about the Design, Economic Restructuring, and Organization components of Jefferson Matters: Main Street. Funding sources for projects got 16 votes (Design), new businesses had 15 votes (Economic Restructuring), and keeping volunteers engaged (Organization) tallied 13 votes.
The group had solid consensus that the downtown “square is compact and established” (19 votes) as an asset of downtown, and 12 participants said developing a Welcome Center downtown was the greatest opportunity. Eleven listed “potential to be a destination town” and “bike trail” as other greatest opportunities.
The three top reasons (among 16 provided by the small groups) as why downtown Jefferson is important to the community were: hub of the county, economic development through historic preservation, and historical value with a modern feel.
The Main Street Iowa staff tabulated the responses to the questions and the one-sentence vision of downtown in the years ahead, and shared the results with Jefferson Matters: Main Street as a “draft vision” for the program.
The draft vision (see sidebar) was formed by combining all of the top responses to the series of questions. It also included a list of the top 40 words and phrases created by the small groups. These ranged from “historic buildings” to “adding new businesses” to “façade improvements” to “hub of the county.”
If you would like to review the entire draft vision and individual responses, contact Alan Robinson, program director, Jefferson Matters: Main Street at 515-386-3584 or email@example.com.